Review: BUSHMILLS 16yo – #77 hit

While being the oldest licensed distillery in the world – granted by King James I in 1608 – the Old Bushmills Distillery is also the only operating whiskey distillery left in Northern Ireland. You would think that having 406 years in mastering the art of whiskey-making would generate pretty damn good whiskey!?  bushmills 16

I want to start off by stating that I SIMPLY LOVE the 16 year old Bushmills! I think it had me even before I opened the bottle with its mouthwatering text, “Aged in oloroso sherry and bourbon casks, then finished in port wine casks for a combination of rich fruitiness and malty nutiness”. I must stress however that this Irish Single Malt is not for everyone. I have had friends that were not too impressed with the taste. You may argue that they weren’t “experienced” enough but in the end it all comes down to the subjectivity of taste. Personally I have never come across a whisk(e)y like this (or even close). Like with all unique flavor profiles you either love it or hate it.

What makes the 16 year old Bushmills so special in my opinion is the remarkable synergy that has been achieved by combining two completely different flavor profiles. On the one hand you have mahogany wood, earthiness and Hazelnuts. Then on the other you have black currents, caramel, fudge, peaches and hints of vanilla. All these different notes work so well together and form an extraordinary experience. On top of all this the finish is very very very long.

VERDICT: Not many whiskeys can boast about being matured in three different casks. The end result is a very unique whiskey with a myriad of flavors were you get the best from both worlds. The Bushmills 16yo does not get the attention it deserves in my opinion and I can highly recommend it.

  (8.3/10)

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Review: BUFFALO TRACE – #71 hit

“One of the world’s great whiskies”. – Jim Murray

I am a sucker for intriguing advertisements so when I noticed Jim Murray’s statement on a Buffalo Trace bottle the other day I had no choice but to buy it. A “great” whiskey for measly 30 bucks is not something I am likely to walk away from. Luckily so. It appears as if Jim was right again, this is truly a “great” bourbon. I would actually go as far as to say it is one of tBuffalo Tracehe best bourbons I have tasted yet! I am far from alone in my infatuation as Buffalo Trace has won multiple medals throughout the years most recently receiving a Double Gold Rating at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2012. Its success is also illustrated by the size of the distillery. To date the Buffalo Trace Distillery site encompasses 119 acres and, impressively, 114 buildings.

The first thing I liked about Buffalo Trace, and maybe least important, was its name. A whiskey that is named after the migration path of thousands of buffalos from the 18th century is just awesome in itself. Secondly, and more importantly, the taste of Buffalo Trace is exquisite! It is much more on the sweet side than most whiskeys but still manage to keep under the sugar-overload-threshold (In contrast to Bourbons like Red Stag and Jim Beam Honey). Caramel is filling most of the picture here accompanied by candied vanilla and hints of orange fruit and green grass. There is good balance in this whiskey and I have to restrain myself from continuously filling the empty glass.

VERDICT: Agreed, this is absolutely one of the world’s great whiskies. It is sweet, creamy, caramel like and yet combines the sugary notes with citrus and orange fruits in a divine manor. This is one of those whiskies I could easily drink half a bottle of and still not get enough. At 30 dollars a bottle this is a steal. Instant favorite.

  (7.7/10)

Review: ELIJAH CRAIG 12yo – #53 hit

Elijah Craig was a Baptist minister from the 1800th century who many believe invented the making of bourbon. elijah-craig-12This 12 year old small batch bourbon won double gold in SFWSC 2008 and is viewed by many as one of the finest bourbons on the market. I moderately agree on this even though I prefer the 18 year edition over any other bourbon. When taking the first sip old leather boots comes to mind. Without being deafening you have the characteristic oaky notes coming through but still leaving room for sweetness in form of vanilla and toffee. It packs a punch but without delivering too much of a burn.

VERDICT: An overall good bourbon! If I were to mention anything negative it would be the lack of character. Nothing really stands out, flavor-wise that is. I would probably not be able to distinguish this from other 12 year old bourbons in a blind test.

  (7/10)

Review: JIM BEAM Red Stag Black Cherry – #64 hit

Where I come from Cherry Coke and Dr. Pepper is not very popular. I only know one person who actually like that stuff and that is me. Why that is I don’t know but I have always had a thing for cherry flavored drinks. So naturally I had to try Jim Beam’s Red Stag.jim-beam-red-stag

My first thought was “this must be the most viscous whiskey on the market”. You can almost chew on it! Also you don’t think of whiskey drinking it. Instead of whiskey I would more describe it as melted caramel mixed with sugar and dried red fruits. The traditional bourbon taste is almost absent and has been replaced by black cherry and heaps of glucose. Don’t get me wrong I like sugary stuff but Red Stag really tests my limit. If I was drinking it on the rocks without knowing what it was I would have put it at around 30% abv certainly not 40%. It is so unbelievably smooth. No wonder it is trying to target the female audience.

Disregarding the fact that Red Stag does not really taste like traditional bourbon, I love it. Maybe a bit too sugary but if you keep to a few glasses it should be fine. There is no question about it, I like this bourbon for the same reasons I like Cherry Coke and Dr. Pepper; It is sweet and tastes like cherries.

Red Stag was launched in 2009 and last year Jim Beam came out with two more natural flavored bourbons: Red Stag Honey Tea and Red Stag Spiced. Maybe it is about time to try them as well.

VERDICT: Even though Red Stag never intended to impress whisky enthusiasts like myself I am slightly impressed. However the sugary notes quickly become too overwhelming so my advice is to drink small amounts at a time.

  (6.9/10)

Review: REDBREAST 12yo – #13 hit

Out of the four distillers still operating in Ireland New Midleton is the only one producing whiskey like in the 18th Century: Pure Pot Still Irish Whiskey. Nowadays it is referred to as Pot Still Irish Whiskey and the 12 year old bottling of Redbreast is, at least in my opinion, the best that have come out of this distillation method. Instead of only using malted barley like in single malts, Pot Still Irish Whiskey allow the addition of unmalted barley before proceeding with the triple distillation. This gives the finished product a more natural barley flavor which is especially apparent in this very outstanding Irish whiskey.redbreast 12

With the 12 year old Redbreast it was love at first sight….or rather taste. No wonder this whiskey appears on so many top 5 lists. The palate opens up with something that tastes like earthy hazelnuts that have been dipped in maple syrup and rolled in caramelized vanilla. Delicious. Then you have a later entry introducing sharp notes of citrus fruits and pine needles followed by subtle notes of sherry. Still the taste is very unique and hard to put an exact finger on. On top of all this you have the oily creaminess that Irish whiskeys are so well-known for.

VERDICT: In regards to Irish whiskeys this is definitely the breast..I mean the BEST!

(8.4/10)